Legislation and initiatives in the Nordic countries

In document Hazardous chemicals in construction products (Page 60-63)

6.2 Legislation regarding chemicals in construction products/building structures in other

6.2.5 Legislation and initiatives in the Nordic countries

The Swedish government has a general ambition to move towards harmonisation among the construction regulations in Nordic countries. Therefore, we asked the Nordic countries about how they regulate hazardous substances in construction products in order to “protect” the indoor environment, and about whether there is work being done to introduce regulation. The following summary is based on the replies received from the respective building authorities.


There is a general requirement111 in Denmark contained in a provision on pollution from construction materials, stipulating that construction products must not emit gases, vapours, particles or radiation which can result in an unhealthy indoor environment. The provision also comes with guidelines which refer to a voluntary indoor environment labelling system known as Danish Indoor Climate Labelling112. This determines criteria for the contents of hazardous substances, along with levels of emissions in the indoor environment for VOCs and particles, for instance.

There is also a provision stipulating that construction products containing formaldehyde may not be used if it results in creating an unhealthy indoor environment. Guidelines are provided along with the provision, referring to the WHO’s recommended limits for maximum

emissions of 0.1 mg/m3.

There is another provision stipulating that construction products containing asbestos may not be used.

Standards used in the Danish Indoor Climate Labelling system

Information about labelling in Denmark from 2005 refers to the testing methods available in the standards prEN 13419-1, -2 and -3, which were previously numbered as EN ISO 16000-9, -10 and -11.


The Norwegian Environmental Agency regulates the concentration of hazardous substances in the Product Regulations113. It contains threshold values for hazardous substances. The

Norwegian Environmental Agency also has a priority list of hazardous substances which will be phased out by 2020114.

The construction regulations contain requirements concerning substances harmful to health and the environment in construction products115. They state that products should be selected for construction, containing either no or low contents of substances harmful to health and the environment. The indoor environment is regulated by a separate chapter which includes provisions on air quality, thermal indoor climate, radiation environment and others. The provisions are intended to prevent damage to health and should be used in conjunction with the requirement to select construction products producing low or no emissions in indoor air.

111 http://bygningsreglementet.dk/br10_05_id94/0/42 112 http://www.teknologisk.dk/ydelser/dansk-indeklima-maerkning/253 113 http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/en/Legislation1/Regulations/Product-Regulations/ 114 http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/no/Tjenester-og-verktoy/Veileder/Substitusjonsplikten/Om-prioritetslisten/ 115 http://dibk.no/no/BYGGEREGLER/Gjeldende-byggeregler/Veiledning-om-tekniske-krav-til- byggverk/?dxp=/dxp/content/tekniskekrav/9/2/

The construction regulations do not refer to any standard, but the guidelines mention the reference standard NS-EN 15251, with national appendices.

National appendix

Pollution from construction products in the indoor environment must be evaluated and

documented when classifying the building. Specific requirements are set out here, which need to be achieved to allow a building to be classed in accordance with this standard. All surface coating products (primers, paints, flooring, wall panels, doors) must achieve the class which the building is to be approved for.

At least 90% of all the products/materials which are exposed to the indoor environment or which can cause emissions in the indoor environment must achieve the class which the building is approved for. Stone, glass, ceramic materials and metal which are not

impregnated, varnished or painted can be regarded as producing low emissions without the need to take emissions measurements for the individual product. In the case of other

materials/products, the emissions must be documented by an independent laboratory which is accredited for the testing method used. Materials and products are classed according to the requirements indicated in Table 4. Prefabricated materials must be tested 3 and 28 days after finished production. Untreated virgin timber must be able to achieve emissions requirements after 28 days when the timber is used. These exception regulations apply to timber which is untreated.

The national appendix is under review.

Table 4: Limits for low-emission1) materials and very low-emission materials, see NS-EN 15251 (Appendix C), and M1 scheme


Emissions factor (mg/m2h) after 28 days Very low-emission


Low-emission materials Total volatile organic

compounds (TVOC) < 0.1 < 0.2 Carcinogens < 0.002 < 0.005 Formaldehyde (H2CO) < 0.02 < 0.05 Ammonia (NH3) (if relevant) < 0.01 < 0.03 Odour (rate of dissatisfaction with material’s odour), if relevant < 10% < 15%

1) In this case, the term “low-emission materials” is used (the term “low pollution” is used in the standard).

With regard to TVOCs, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has stopped issuing the previous recommendations on indoor environment quality116 as the reason for establishing a health-based indicator which includes the total of all VOCs is inadequate.


Apart from the regulation described above, voluntary systems are used for the indoor environment. The following voluntary systems are used:

- SINTEF environmental assessment117 - Nordic Swan/EU flower labels

- ECO-product118 (database containing products which have been assessed) - EPD119

- BREEAM NOR is available for the construction sector120.

The SINTEF environmental assessment focuses on emission of TVOCs from the following products:

· Coverings and roofing products · Adhesives and joints

· Putty and sealing products (fire sealant) · Tape (internal use)

· Primers, putty products, screed, coating membrane

· All types of floor coverings, floorboards, parquet and laminate, including floor adhesive · Painting and varnishing products

· Panel materials (wood-based panels, wet-room panels, cement-based panels etc.) · Damp course

· Radon membrane (PVC) exposed to indoor air · Weld membrane (PVC) in wet room

· Plastic insulation (EPS / XPS, PUR etc.) · Other insulating materials

The assessment includes the limit for chemical pollution for the product in a dry/hardened state and the evaluation is based on self-declarations121. This system has been operating since 2003 and there are no plans to modify it because of the Construction Products Regulation. But the fact that the Commission wants to harmonise classes for VOC emissions will lead to an adjustment. The Commission document will be discussed internally in the future.

Standards used in the SINTEF environmental assessment

The environmental assessment is based on the standards in the EN ISO 16000 series with regard to emissions. In the case of adhesives and wood-based panels, products can be assessed by testing formaldehyde according to EN 120, EN 717-1:2004 or EN 717-2:1994. Testing, the calculations for TVOCs and SVOCs and debriefing should be carried out according to PD CEN/TS16516:2013122. Products with the following certification from other countries’ systems are considered as meeting the requirements in the SINTEF environmental assessment: Finnish M1 Emission class for construction materials or the German GEV Emicode EC1 and EC1 Plus.

117 http://www.sintef-norge.com/globalassets/upload/byggforsk/fagartikler/09_2014_miljovurdering.pdf 118http://www.byggtjeneste.no/WPpages/Support/ECOproduct/FAQ%20om%20ECOproduct.aspx?folder=WPpa ges/Support/ECOproduct/FAQ%20om%20ECOproduct.aspx

119 http://www.epd-norge.no/article.php?articleID=1520&categoryID=678 120 http://ngbc.no/breeam-nor, and http://ngbc.no/sites/default/files/BREEAM- NOR%20Norw%20ver%201.1_0.pdf s.107-110

121 http://www.sintefcertification.no/PortalPage.aspx?pageid=56

122 A harmonised EN standard is expected to be issued during 2016 and will replace sections of the EN ISO 16000 series.


Finland has a voluntary system for classifying emissions from construction products123. The aim of the classification system is to promote the development and use of low-emission construction products. The classification contains emissions requirements, for instance, for construction materials and dwellings with regard to good air quality indoors. The intention of the M1 system is to promote low emitting construction products and the system has been operating since 1995. The system was completely voluntary at the start, but since 2006, Government decree 591/2006 refers to M1. These regulations are scheduled for an update. The classification splits construction materials into three categories where M1 is the best124. The M1 label which manufacturers put on their product confirms that the product has been tested at an independent, neutral laboratory and has met the specified criteria 4 weeks after manufacture.

Standards used in the M1 system

The M1 system has been adapted to comply with TS16516, which conforms with ISO 16000- 9, 10, 11, apart from in the case of TVOC values and some load values. Information about the accuracy of the test method is described in the report “Emissions into indoor air" no. N009 (CEN/TC 351/WG 2/TG 22).

In document Hazardous chemicals in construction products (Page 60-63)